Business musings

Articles and thoughts about organisational performance

22
May
Posted by Debbie Stocker, stored in: Innovation  Our News  

Earlier in the year, we ran an innovation masterclass at the Coventry Growth Hub for the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. It was great to see everyone getting their heads around innovation and what it means for their business. The event has been featured in C&W in Business and we thought you’d like to see the article.

Participants explore how to become more innovative during the Chamber’s January Masterclass run by strategic innovation consultancy Stocker Partnership

It’s looking like 2015 will be the year of innovation…

For the 30 businesses that attended the Chamber’s Innovation Masterclass run by Stocker Partnership, it’s looking like 2015 will be the year of innovation.

The well-attended event was relocated to the conferencing facilities at Cheylesmore House due to high demand from business professionals wanting to learn how to apply innovation in their businesses.

Innovation specialists Matt and Debbie Stocker from strategic innovation consultancy Stocker Partnership challenged participants to think differently about their businesses and to step beyond their everyday experiences.

They opened the group’s eyes to the fact that it is possible to innovate anything and everything within a business, rather than innovation being limited to the creation of new products alone.

Sarah Hickman from Public Marketing Communications said, “Innovation can seem like a daunting subject that doesn’t necessarily apply to your business on a day to day basis. When you think about innovation you tend to think of organisations like Apple. You might think, ‘I could never aspire to be an organisation like that.’

“The Masterclass has been useful because we’ve learnt ways that you can actually apply innovation to your business. Even if you’re a small business or a sole trader, you can still innovate and there are practical steps you can take to introduce innovation.”

The Masterclass covered a number of powerful innovation tools, from disruptive thinking that challenges accepted norms in your marketplace or company, to using the power of silent crowdsourcing to generate ideas and solve problems through BrainSwarming.

It also looked at how approaches from another industry can be introduced to expand thinking and unlock new ideas as the latest Software as a Service revenue models were applied to create new income streams. Participants worked hard throughout the morning to develop practical ideas that they could implement as soon as they got back to the office.

Matt Stocker, Director of Stocker Partnership, shared, “It was great to see everyone beginning to view themselves as innovators and starting to understand the value of innovation in their businesses at a deeper level. Innovation is a hugely powerful tool that can be used to drive revenue growth, reduce costs, solve complex challenges and differentiate businesses from the competition. I’m excited to see how the great ideas that everyone came up with will be applied in their respective businesses over the coming year and the impact that this will have.”

This article originally appeared in the May/June edition of C&W In Business, Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber’s official magazine.

10
Feb
Posted by Matt Stocker, stored in: Performance Improvement  Technology & Web  

pile-of-papersChances are, if you are anything like most businesses, you have a lot of paper to deal with in your office and in your job. The fact is, we rely to a large extent on paper: to communicate, to record, to remind, to sell. The promise of a paper free office remains a technological fantasy for many.

However, it is important to recognise the scalability issues of paper as a technology: paper can only be in one place at one time so it doesn’t work well across multiple sites; revision control is tricky; and it can be hard to back up – do you have duplicate copies of everything if worst came to the worst?

Even if we cannot remove paper entirely, there are things we can do to consign it to a supporting role rather than the main deal within a business.

Steps to creating a paperless office

1. Analysing your processes

The first idea to grasp is the fact that paper usually relates to a process or processes within your organisation. Understanding this will provide a solid foundation for beginning to deal with the paper as the processes themselves provide the structural foundation for creating a paperless office. By analysing the papers for clues about the activities the paper itself represents and following this paper through the system, you can outline your processes, giving you an accurate view of ‘now’.

2. Revising your processes

The next step is to revise your processes in order to maximise efficiency. This includes:

  • Eliminating bottle necks and their resulting backlogs
  • Removing unecessary steps within the process(es)
  • Assessing crossover and interdependency of processes within the wider organisation to ensure integration
  • And, overall, designing as lean a process as possible.

Value stream mapping may be a good tool to use at this stage. The people involved in each process within your organisation will also be a vital source of information and feedback as they are the people on the ground who are involved in the processes day-in, day-out.

3. Integrating paper and technology

Having created a coherent set of lean processes, the next challenge is to reduce the use of paper where possible. This can be done by assessing the processes to find out which parts of them can be automated and then developing an IT and technology solution that has your best practice processes inherently embedded into its system. In other words, the IT and technology solution reflects and is built around your processes, rather than the processes being built around the technology.

4. Sustainable continuous improvement

Once you have found a solution that works for your organisation as a whole and that maximises your efficiency and effectiveness, it is important to maintain the momentum of improvement. Ongoing assessment and revision will ensure that as your organisation grows and develops your processes continue to support the delivery of your organisation’s objectives. New technology is also continually emerging that may provide a solution to paper based systems where a solution did not previously exist. Staying abreast of these developments allows you to continually improve organisational performance and efficiency.

5. Reducing risk

Although it is not always possible to eliminate the use of paper completely, you should not be relying on paper for mission critical functions. However, neither should you be relying on technology without a business continuity plan in place. Whatever system and solution you are using, you should always make sure that fail-safes and redundancies are built into the process(es).

If you would like any advice or support in creating a paperless office for your organisation, please contact me or call me on 02476 100 193 – I would love to help!

25
Jan
Posted by Matt Stocker, stored in: Business Excellence  Our News  

As an assessor for the Midlands Excellence Awards, one of the perks I received was a complimentary ticket to the Awards ceremony, which I attended last Thursday. It was a great evening, which around 1200 people attended, representing many companies from across the region and beyond.

Awards

A variety of awards were given out, ranging from the specialist awards to the main Midlands Excellence Award (which was won by the Hanley Economic Building Society). Congratulations to the Hanley Economic Building Society and to the other companies that were highly commended, re-accredited and also to those organisations that were recognised as Ambassadors of Excellence. The awards represent a huge amount of hard work and resulting improvement by both the companies that won and by all the other companies that entered.

Keynote Speech

James Cracknell was an interesting and amusing keynote speaker as he gave an account of his Olympic experience and his subsequent adventures with Ben Fogle (which you may have seen on television).

The thing that struck me most in James’ speech was his honesty about both his strengths and his weaknesses. He was modest of his own achievements and very self-aware with respect to both himself and his own performance.

One of the observations he made that particularly stayed with me was his admission that his main failure during the Amundsen Omega3 South Pole Race was his inability to admit to the team that he was struggling as they were nearing the end of the race. Within a short race, such as James’ Olympic successes, he observed that it was possible just to push through the pain, whereas in a race the length of the South Pole Race, this just wasn’t physically possible.

Together, the team had agreed to help each other out if they were struggling; whilst this increased the load on the other teammates, it was actually the team that won or lost, not the individual. They were only as strong as their weakest member. James explained that by trying to be strong he had actually weakened the team (and potentially lost the team first place).

I respected his honesty, and also wondered what model of ‘performance’ we use within organisations. Is organisational performance about a sprint to the finish or does organisational performance actually have more in common with competitive team endurance races? I wonder if we have much to learn from these experiences.

Overall, a great night and one that I hope to be able to attend again next year.